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Mentoring Case Studies

Experiences of mentoring at the University

In this collection of case studies, colleagues from across the University tell us about their experiences of mentoring.

Watch our case study videos:

Colleagues talk us through their experiences of being mentors and mentees.

Jim Bird

Jim tells us about his experience as both a mentor and mentee on the mentoring scheme. The video opens in MediaSite.

Beth Snowden

Beth shares her insights of being a mentor on the mentoring scheme. The video opens in Microsoft Stream.

Kate Nash and Martin Ward

Kate and Martin tell us about their experiences on the mentoring scheme as a mentor and mentee. The video opens in Microsoft Stream.

Read a selection of case studies:

Rachael McConville-Darwin - Examinations and Progress Manager, Mentor and Mentee

Someone writing a checklist in a notebook

Rachael McConville-Darwin

(Examinations and Progress Manager, Mentor and Mentee)

Rachael talks here about working with her first mentee in the University-Wide Scheme, but has registered on the scheme as both a mentee and mentor and was working with her own mentor concurrently.

How would you describe your mentoring experience?

I found it really interesting and fulfilling. It was my first official mentoring experience with the university. I watched the suggested training, read all the material but still felt a bit nervous before the first meeting.  However, that went away pretty much as soon as I spoke to my mentee!

It was fulfilling for me personally to see active changes in my mentee as we discussed their issues, and moved along the relationship, turning those issues into goals, achievements and positive outcomes.

What impact did the mentoring have on you?

It was very positive; I enjoyed being able to support someone in a different area to me, with a different career and focus, but who I could still share experience and knowledge with.

I found it has helped me evaluate some of my own goals too, and think about how I could put my own words into action for myself. It felt like we were both getting something positive from our time together.

What worked well for you, and what didn't?

I found the initial matching system and some of the materials really useful. I think it helped that I had a mentor myself at the same time too! I wondered how it would work having to have sessions online but actually, I found the MS Teams environment worked really well for me and made it feel very comfortable.

Sometimes I felt like the guidance and what to do/not do was a bit overwhelming at first. It almost felt like I needed to be mentored in mentoring! However, it did help me get into a rhythm as I knew there was support there.

I think I'd have benefitted from talking through the approach I was going to take, to get some reassurance I wasn't going completely wrong – it would be great to connect with other mentors in the scheme to do that.

Deirdre Conlon - Associate Professor, Faculty of Environment, Mentee

Deirdre Conlon

(Associate Professor, Faculty of Environment, Mentee)

Deirdre registered as a mentee on the University-Wide Scheme looking for a mentor who could provide guidance, and share experience, of professional advancement.  

At the end of her mentoring relationship, she shared;  "I believe everyone can benefit from mentoring", she is now looking forward to giving back as a mentor herself having experienced how beneficial it is for mentees.  

How would you describe your mentoring experience? 

It’s been an absolutely worthwhile experience on lots of different levels, both personal and professional.  I’ve been able to gain an understanding of institutions, roles, and gained insight from the process of both my mentor and I sharing our experiences.  

I found the whole thing very positive, supportive, and easy. Setting up meetings was really straight forward, meetings themselves were frank with lots of insights.  My mentor was able to signpost relevant resources and support and provided strategies to facilitate goals I'd outlined in the initial meeting. My mentor was terrific, open, listened well, questioned attentively and with empathy, and facilitated a great deal of confidence-building, personal progress and professional development insight. 

What impact did the mentoring have on you? 

I have gained clarity regarding my professional development goals and how to advance them, as well as confidence in pursuing these. I feel reassured in exploring and taking on new perspectives and roles within existing and new working groups with colleagues now.  

What worked well for you, and what didn't? 

The schedule of meetings worked well.  Initially, I was sceptical about the mentee taking the lead to schedule meetings but actually, this allowed me to define the parameters and to take more ownership of the mentoring relationship. I’ve felt supported and have been able to advance my goals as hoped. Nothing comes to mind that didn't work well! 

I appreciated the materials and resources made available through OD&PL about mentoring and mentee relationships, preparation for meetings, and getting the most out of mentoring programs.  

Sarah Hill - Education Outreach Lead Officer, Mentor

Sarah Hill

(Education Outreach Lead Officer, Mentor)

Sarah registered with the University-Wide Scheme upon its re-launch.  Sarah has a range of experience supporting and managing colleagues and has always enjoyed seeing them gain confidence and reach their potential, but this was the first time Sarah had been a formal mentor. Sarah was matched with a colleague in our first matching period and talks about the experience here.  Sarah is now mentoring her second mentee following our most recent round of matching.  

How would you describe your mentoring experience? 

It was great, I really enjoyed the experience and wish I had signed up before! It was nice to build a relationship with someone external to my office where the conversation could be open and supportive, without any judgement. My motivation for enrolling as a mentor was simply the desire to support someone else. However, I valued the opportunity to learn about my mentee's role and how their work supports the University. 

What impact did the mentoring have on you? 

I think it made me realise I have some good skills which perhaps don't get put to use as often as I would like. It was nice to feel valued and appreciated, the sessions felt very worthwhile, and I could see my mentee reflecting on our discussions and growing in confidence. My confidence also grew, I looked forward to each of our meetings and having something different to focus on. 

What worked well for you, and what didn't? 

I felt the matching worked well, it was good that we were both in the same service but in different departments. My mentee and I had a lot in common so it was easy to get the relationship off the ground. We met every 3 weeks which worked well for us, though we respected each other’s additional commitments and were flexible around these. We had a set objective for each session which helped focus our discussions, and we respected what we had each promised to do in advance.  

Thom Cooper - Sustainability Manager, Mentee

Thom Cooper

(Sustainability Manager, Mentee) 

Thom had recently moved into a managerial role for the first time and wanted to engage in mentoring to explore some of the skills and challenges the new role brought with an experienced colleague.  He hoped to develop self-confidence in his existing leadership skills and consider them in the context of his new role.  

How would you describe your mentoring experience? 

It’s been very positive. Everything was simple to set up and I have developed a very useful relationship with my mentor. 

What impact did the mentoring have on you? 

It's provided me with a valuable connection to a colleague at the University that is outside my immediate Service and team. My mentor is knowledgeable and a very good listener, so I've been able to openly discuss some challenging areas of work for me, particularly line management and managing upwards, as well as reflecting on my own development needs. I've left each meeting with some new ideas to explore and some actions to follow up. 

What worked well for you, and what didn't? 

The system for finding me a mentor worked OK.  I did decide to decline the first suggested mentor as I didn’t feel they would be able to offer what I wanted to get out of the process, but OD&PL staff took on board my comments and matched me with someone else which worked out really well.  

We agreed between us when was convenient to meet, and although in the University-Wide Scheme relationships are designed to last 6 months, we are continuing to meet while it’s still useful and effective. I think in reality we have regularly merged between mentoring and coaching, but I'm very comfortable with this and it has been valuable for me. 

Sabina Brusemini - Project Officer (Digital Education Service), Mentor

Sabina Brusemini

(Project Officer (Digital Education Service), Mentor)

Sabina signed up to be a Mentor on the University-Wide Scheme in November 2020, below she talks about the experience with her first mentee.  She is now working with a second!

Having already found career progression at the university challenging and competitive herself, Sabina was keen to become a mentor to instil confidence in talented brilliant young professionals to make sure they stay in our organisation and contribute to improve it and to help others avoid feeling demotivated.

Although she has been recently promoted to a higher grade in a role that is closer to her long-term career aspirations, the pathway that led to her promotion was not always without its challenges. Contributing to the University-Wide Mentoring Scheme was, and continues to be, a valued opportunity to help others develop their skills, and support them while they plan their career objectives.

How would you describe your mentoring experience?

Mentoring in the University-Wide Scheme has been a really valuable experience for me, both professionally and on a personal level too. I related to my mentee a lot and could understand their struggles and frustration, especially with regards to career progression aspirations.

I hope my mentee found our partnership as rewarding as I did! I learnt about the service my mentee works in, the role they have and what their responsibilities are.  I was able to signpost them to useful training and courses and suggested a number of opportunities and ways to improve their CV and work experience. One of my mentee’s ultimate objectives was to progress to a higher grade, but also to a role they could enjoy working in, a role that could improve their skill set and knowledge and enable them to progress further in the near future. I’m delighted that they have been recently promoted to a higher grade and I hope my support and guidance helped them.

What impact did the mentoring have on you?

I built confidence in supporting fellow colleagues.  I did a bit of research myself on useful training material and courses they could enrol on in order to improve their CV and prepare for interviews.

What worked well for you, and what didn't?

Everything worked very well from my perspective, I hope my mentee had a similar experience and felt that the time we spent on career progression objectives was time well spent.